Formerly the ace of the Blue Jays, Roy Halladay gets a chance to pitch in the postseason for the first time with the Philadelphia Phillies.
That could be quite intimidating for a young pitcher in the rotation with him.
Last year when Halladay was still with the Blue Jays, Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil came up to pitch with the team for the first time. Halladay was the undisputed leader among the pitching staff at this time due to his experience and almost legendary status.
Having a pitcher on the team who can lead by example the way Halladay did cannot be underestimated. Simply watching Halladay practice and pitch could be a giant learning experience for pitchers just coming up to the Major Leagues.
But as ball clubs change and develop, different leaders are appropriate for the different times. When Halladay was traded in the winter, Shaun Marcum became the veteran leader on the Blue Jays staff despite losing last season to injury.
The 2010 season has seen Marcum recover with surprising success, putting up a 3.63 ERA, a 13-8 record with 161 strikeouts and just 43 walks. His control and consistency, as well as his experience, has made him the pitcher that the other staff looks to for leadership. But it is his easygoing and fun approach to the games that has helped to make this a very different pitching staff.
With Marcum being the oldest starter at 28 years old, this is a very young pitching rotation with many of the starts coming from pitchers from the minors such as Kyle Drabek.
There are also new additions such as Brandon Morrow, who came over in a trade from the Seattle Mariners.
With this combination of youth and new pitchers, it is important to have someone who can bring the picthing staff together. Marcum has become that pitcher, and because of that, the Blue Jays have a very noticeable bond and camaraderie.
This companionship has created a sense of friendly competition and pushed the starters to a surprising and rather impressive year. Romero established himself as a future ace with his play this year, and broke the 200 innings milestone for the first time. Morrow led the league in strikeouts per nine innings this year and learned to control his powerful arm. Cecil greatly improved on last year with his all-around numbers and led the team in wins.
Halladay personified greatness in a Blue Jays uniform, but in the end, perhaps it was the right time for him to move on. He gets a chance to compete in the postseason this year as he justly deserves, and the Blue Jays have the opportunity to evolve into a different team, one that once again has a chance to make it to the playoffs.